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Independent UK: It's about time the US had some 'union tyranny'

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marmar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-14-09 09:20 PM
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Independent UK: It's about time the US had some 'union tyranny'
Rupert Cornwell: It's about time the US had some 'union tyranny'

Out of America: A new law will finally level a playing field tilted against organised labour since the founding fathers

Sunday, 15 March 2009


In Britain it was a moment of sober reflection, the 25th anniversary of the start of the miners' strike, the greatest defeat for the unions in modern times. Here in the US, by contrast, a long-overdue victory for organised labour may finally be at hand.

Last week the Employee Free Choice Act was introduced in Congress in the Senate by none other than Ted Kennedy, in what might be a last roar of the ailing liberal lion. But what a roar it would be if the bill went through. You might think it is a matter of simple justice. But for employers, it signifies the advent of socialism or worse.

Listen to corporate America, and its allies in the Republican party and right-wing think-tanks, and you'd imagine the bill is a charter for union tyranny. It will increase organised labour's bargaining power, they complain. Of course it will; that is the whole point. Such objections might have merit if America were like pre-Thatcherite Britain, when the unions held government to ransom. But they don't. The US is one of the least unionised Western countries. Only 12 per cent of the workforce belong to unions, compared with 30 per cent during organised labour's golden age in the 1940s and 1950s.

Employers point to the legislation's "card check" clause, whereby if a majority of workers at a company sign cards calling for the establishment of a union, and the process is ratified by the National Labor Relations Board, a union is automatically set up, with the right to negotiate a contract with management. If the two sides can't reach agreement, a government-appointed arbitrator will impose a contract. Opponents say the "card check" amounts to a public vote, which would permit intimidation, even violence, against workers who don't want a union. Whatever happened to the secret ballot, that foundation stone of American democracy, they ask, ignoring the Act's provision of a secret ballot, should a majority of employees request one.

Strip away the propaganda, though, and what's at stake is clear. The measure finally levels a playing field that has been tilted against organised labour ever since the Founding Fathers or at least since a Philadelphia judge ruled in 1806 that an attempt by a group of shoemakers to secure a wage increase was an "illegal criminal conspiracy". Abraham Lincoln, who extolled the moral superiority of labour over capital, might have been a supporter of unions but most often the movement struggled against the overwhelming power of the bosses. ........(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/ruper...




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skooooo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-14-09 09:22 PM
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1. Is it really true?

Never thought I'd live to see America welcome the idea of unions again.
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customerserviceguy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-14-09 09:35 PM
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2. Congress and the President welcoming it is one thing
but corporate America is dead set against it. I have zero doubts that the muckety-mucks of the big chains have vowed to close the first Mal-Wart, Home Despot, etc. that successfully has a card check. Right now, they likely have to close some stores anyway, they'll move unionization to the very top of the list of criteria involved.

And you can believe they will suck up all the negative publicity about it. They'll let the mainstream media "warn" the other workers.
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